This past week we had 26 St. John’s students volunteer at three different local organizations. In total, each of them volunteered 2-3 hours of their time, providing service and learning about two different causes. Two groups were assisting the elderly in senior homes (Brussels, Waterloo), and one returned to organize activities for children of asylum-seeking families (Alsemberg).

Below are the reflections of Marysia, the student leader of the St. John’s Friendly Companions group, who plan to visit the senior home Parc de la Cense in Waterloo on a regular basis next year.

Last week, we went with a group of seven students, for the first trial run of “STJ Friendly Companions”. I organised everything along with Mr. Ambrozy’s help and it proved to be a total success. The planning was a bit stressful especially as I am not fluent in French (and the woman in charge at Parc de la Cense only speaks french and so do the residents) but we ended up pulling everything together.

I brought boxes, and pretty, decorative napkins to cover the boxes with. We borrowed cutting knives and glue from the Art studio and some of the other group members brought in boxes as well. On the day of the project (Wednesday 17 May, 2017) we went to the home to set up the materials for the afternoon.

When we got to Parc de la Cense after school, Caroline had already started working with the residents. When we came, we all sat down with a few residents and were there to help them work either on their boxes or their mandalas. Carlota and I worked with two ladies who had started gluing napkins onto boxes. I worked with a very nice Belgian woman named Cecile. We worked together to first apply glue, then the napkin and then more glue over it to make sure that it stuck to the box properly. Working with Cecile proved to be a bit challenging as I had to communicate in French and she often forgot the steps which she had to take (hence I had to constantly remind her what to do). However it was an extremely eye-opening and amazing experience. At the end of the session, I didn’t want to leave. I had a lot of fun, I had some nice conversations with Cecile and Chantale (the other woman working at our table).

I think we often take our lives for granted and don’t stop to think about other people. During this project I felt very immersed in someone else’s life for once and I was grateful that I had a chance to contribute to something seemingly so small but so big at the same time. I was also very pleased with the fact that I mainly helped organise the activity and managed to pull everything off.

The next day after the project I asked around some of the other students who participated about their takeaways and feelings from Wednesday. Everyone responded in very positive ways, even those who did not speak French at all. They all had a good time and enjoyed working with the residents at Parc de la Cense.

Contributed by Marysia, Grade 11